James Edward Ferrell was born on December 31, 1924, in the town of Burgaw in Pender County, N.C., to Oswald G. and Grace B. Ferrell. James' father worked as an automobile mechanic by 1930.
James Ferrell was drafted into military service for World War II after graduating from Burgaw High School. He was inducted officially on May 31, 1943, at Fort Bragg, N.C. At Fort Bragg, Ferrell went through 13 weeks of basic training before shipping overseas in December 1943 to Liverpool, England. He was involved in the invasion of France during the D-Day invasion in June 1944, and received the Purple Heart for wounds received during the invasion. Ferrell served in the U.S. Army in the 9th Division until 1945, and reached the rank of Private during his military career.
After the war, James Ferrell married Marie Bardeaux on May 14, 1949, in Pender County, N.C. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 32 years. Ferrell was a rural mail carrier for Route 2 Burgaw, and retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1984. James E. Ferrell died on June 20, 2008, in Wilmington, N.C., and was buried in Burgaw Cemetery in Burgaw, N.C.